ramen rating: takaraya – irvine, ca

Takaraya RamenTakaraya RamenTakaraya Ramen

wife: Do you know there’s a really good ramen place in Orange County that we haven’t tried?
me: excuse me?
wife: Guess!
me: …(trying to think of the most unlikely place possible)…that Japanese place by the gas station in the 99 Ranch plaza??

Whoa…I guessed right! According to a fellow blogger, this little Japanese eatery was worth checking out. Excited, we went there for lunch.

The place that is now Takaraya used to be a non-descript donut store. It’s not that much better looking: it looks like a take-out place that also happens to have a few tables and chairs. Don’t expect much in terms of atmosphere. But there are Hello Kitty bowls you can use, and a stack of Japanese magazines to browse through. A good sign. Not being particularly hungry, we settled on the shoyu ramen and pork rice combo.

I noticed a distinctly strong aroma when I set our tray on the table…it was strong and vaguely familiar. After taking a few sips I figured it out: black mushrooms! The soup had a strong mushroom smell, but had a light, almost watery taste. It wasn’t bad, but it was very non-descript.

Takaraya RamenTakaraya RamenTakaraya Ramen

The noodles were a bit on the soft side, without any special taste or texture. The bamboo had a “fresh out of the can” taste and was probably soaked in shoyu a bit too long. The pork was decent though; the slices were thick and tender enough. Overall everything was just very average.

The pork rice was a bit better. Maybe I had lower expectations of the pork when it’s not in a bowl of ramen, but I thought it tasted just slightly better in the rice. On a hot summer day, you can’t go wrong with a cool bowl of rice, green onions, sesame seeds, sea weed, and pork. Ah, refreshing!

The place wasn’t bad, it’s just not a ramen house. And I hate to say it, but you can get better ramen by walking across the plaza to the 99 Ranch market, and buying a pack of nama ramen.

Takaraya gets a very middle-of-the-road 5.

Takaraya
5408 Walnut Ave
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 654-1221

  6 comments for “ramen rating: takaraya – irvine, ca

  1. 8/16/2007 at 7:04 am

    Is this the same Takaraya that used to be in Costa Mesa? Probably not huh? The ramen doesn’t look that good but I’ll have to check it out next week. Although your mention of a strong mushroom smell brings back the disgusting memories of noodle world.

  2. 8/16/2007 at 10:40 am

    Didn’t the Costa Mesa Takaraya become Kohryu? I never went there when it was Takaraya, but I remember seeing something about that turning into Kohryu.

    The mushroom smell isn’t bad … it was just … unexpected. At least the rice was decent. Being gluttons for punishment, we’re going to go back and try the chirashi bowl sometime!

  3. 8/16/2007 at 7:18 pm

    Okay but I’m still taking some nose plugs. Takaraya used to be where Mentatsu is now.

  4. 8/19/2007 at 12:46 am

    Hello Ramen Lovers!

    I just googled ‘takaraya’ and found your blog. Wow! You are some serious ramen lover! Will come back and again.

    If you are in Kyoto, Japan and looking for a tasty and sophisticated bowl of ramen, I highly recommend Takaraya. Takaraya’s Sumashi Ramen is ’10’ in my book!

    pek

  5. Erik S.
    12/25/2009 at 1:16 pm

    I live near this place so I’ve eaten there many times. I think for a small Japanese diner it’s fantastic. The cooks and staff are Japanese, the food is authentic and cheap. The author is right that this place is not pretty. If you want waitresses dressed in kimonos, this is not the place for you. Personally, I think the ramen is average, not because it tastes bad, but because they don’t use expensive ingredients. But then again, the food prices are 30-40% less than most other Japanese places. Takaraya doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is, an inexpensive Japanese take-out joint, cheap food to fill your ramen fix.

    Erik

  6. 1/4/2010 at 9:54 pm

    @Erik S.: I’m glad you like Takaraya. I *do* wish I liked it better since it’s probably the restaurant closest to me that serves ramen :/

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